Australia's 3 Greatest Contributions to the World

Neil Hickey did a story for the Sunshine Coast Daily last week on the three best things Australia has given the world. He started from a line in a Ken Burns documentary, that the UK’s leading contributions are tea, the presumption of innocence and the English language; and that the US’s are baseball, jazz, and the Constitution.

In the case of Australia, I nominated the fair go, the secret ballot (which the rest of the world calls the Australian ballot), and Australian crawl. My reasons are here. But this prompted a friend of mine, Peter Fyfe, to put forth three of his own:

Irony. By the truckload. Served so dry it’s anhydrous. We didn’t invent it, but we sure cornered the market. It’s a land where, at least once, every redhead is called Bluey, and every giant Shorty. You
can’t beat an Aussie pulling your leg and ragging you out. And it may be our last line of cultural defence against the US, who will never understand irony like we do, which has so many amusing possibilities. Lose your sense of irony and you’re in danger of joining the…

Tall Poppies. This is the perfect way to rid your nation of wankers who, knowing they won’t be taken seriously, get off the island. We’ve successfully rid ourselves of all manner of posers in the process, the termagent Greer being the archetype. It also keeps us honest. Aussies don’t mind success, just not puffed up success. Aussies don’t mind good art, just not puffed up wankers and the wrong sort of elitists. Our national sport of taking those who take themselves too seriously down a peg or two actually means artists and thinkers have to keep it real, for genuine fear of being found out. And the best place to cut down a tall poppy is at a…

Sausage sizzle. There is no occasion great or small not improved by a sausage sizzle. Defiantly unpretentious, cheap, and cheerful, It allows the dignitary to rub shoulders with the dag, The ideal place for the paranoid Aussie to socialise without feeling too threatened and for the powerful to slum it. If the UN ran more Aussie style sausage sizzles, peace and hramony would shatter the earth.

Other trios?

This entry was posted in Australian issues. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Australia's 3 Greatest Contributions to the World

  1. If my experiences in the US are anything to go by, we gave the world;

    Steve Irwin
    The Wiggles
    Discovery Channel specials on “killer wildlife”

  2. Andrew Leigh says:

    My wife is American, so I can attest that (1) and (3) were definitely important in forming her impression of the place…

  3. My wife is American as well, from “joisey”. We are still living in the US (Nth VA). The avid cable watchers when they discover I am Australian mainly want to talk about crocs, snakes and spiders. Since I grew up in Sydney, I know bugger all about crocodiles. Only ever seen one and that was at the Darling Harbour Aquarium.

    Most others want to talk about Sydney or a relative that went to Australia. I was playing golf one day with an American who had been to Australia seventeen times on business trips. He said his memory of Australia was that Australians wore odd socks, as in strangely coloured and strangely patterned.

    He said he recalled being in a business meetings and the Australian would have a suit and tie on with scooby doo socks. When he said it I was wearing a blue golf shirt, long khaki shorts and Sydney Swans socks. He was too polite to mention my bright red socks, but I suspect that it was why he brought it up.

  4. Keren Lavelle says:

    The Australian crawl, so-called, comes from the Solomon Islands.

  5. Andrew Leigh says:

    Keren, I think we do deserve at least partial credit for it. A discussion at suggests that Aussie Fred Cavill got inspiration from watching Solomon Islanders, but also made modifications to the kick.

  6. saint says:

    1. Peter Singer
    2. Biblical theology
    3. Cooper’s Pale Ale

  7. Zebedee says:

    Peter Singer? Too right; we gave the world Peter Singer and we should be hung for it.

  8. Andrew Leigh says:

    Surely not… I mean for all the controversy, this guy is unquestionably one of the world’s great philosophers, no?

  9. Tom Round says:

    Saint, I’m very intrigued that (unless you are bending over backwards to be ultra-ecumenical or ultra-ironic) you’ve put both Prof Singer anti-speciesist utilitarianism and Dr Goldsworthy’s Bib Theol on your list….

Comments are closed.